Beginnings - Live Joyfully

Beginnings - Live Joyfully


Salmon Falls Mill

Sunset from Our Studio Window

It was around 4 am and I was standing on top of a fire escape. In the chilly darkness I hoped I blended into the black wall behind me, wondering if it would be better to crouch down or remain motionless. Several stories below, a patrol car circled the parking lot. Did they see me?

This was our unnecessarily stressful and busy life. We had a farmer’s market to go to the next day and I had filled up the week making sales calls, waiting tables, and working out new product designs. Low on energy, I worked a late night at our mill studio and reluctantly decided to come back and finish wrapping soaps before sunrise. Unfortunately, the building was locked and I had lost my key to the outer door.

Now I was stuck outside with no way into the mill. Thankfully, I prided myself on being a climber and had never lived somewhere I couldn’t get into without keys. Having a fire escape was an added luxury.

Usually, I enjoyed the challenge, but it was 4 am and I had barely slept. There was a full day at the market ahead and a night waiting tables after that. It’s safe to say those little words, “Live joyfully” on our labels raised their eyebrows. Eventually, the cops left and I tried another fire escape and some more windows and doors before finding a tucked away side entrance that had been left unlocked.  Then it was time to get busy wrapping soaps and load up the car for market day.

There was comfort in the celebrated story of Stonewall Kitchen founders pulling an all-nighter before their first Portsmouth farmers market. Still, I imagined that was a bit of a fluke in an otherwise disciplined approach to building a company. Sometimes Katy and I joked that if it hadn’t been for the focus groups (there were none), we would have made our mantra, “Live stressfully. Do uncertain things. Celebrate survival.”

All of this to say that at the beginning our mantra was more resolve than reality. Thankfully, we are learning what it means to live joyfully and I suspect that endeavor will never end. So far, we have learned:


Lighting candles turns simple meals into banquets.


Only a few things are more important than blanket forts.


Coffee should be sipped and savored.


Organized closets are more pleasant to hide in.


Family nights and date nights are non-negotiable.


Unless you want to be an ogre, sleep matters.


Strolling is the fastest pace to contentment.


An extra key is worth the $1.50.


For us, living joyfully has meant slowing down and appreciating textured simplicity. It has meant getting rid of stuff, admiring open space, and saying, “no” to lots of activities and invitations. Bit by bit, we are cultivating deeper friendships and a better family life.

Not long ago, Katy commented that she liked the green gummy worms the best. “They have different flavors?” I asked (and vowed to start eating them one at a time).


Mug from My Brother


Our Mantra



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